Swiss School Group Visits H2O Patagonia for Adventures in Community Service and Culture
For the last trip of the season H2O Patagonia was thrilled to sponsor down on the Futaleufu a group of eight teenage school children and two monitors from Geneva, Switzerland in April 2007. The group visited Futaleufu as part of a service trip to learn about as well as aid with nature conservation, local Chilean traditions and way of life, as well as teach English lessons in several rural schools.
Here are their impressions:
What a trip seriously! It was one of my best holidays ever.
It was really an eye opener for me on how people live and how the environment can change from one country to another. The place where we stayed was awesome. We were surrounded by mountains and I really loved that loneliness (being in the middle of nowhere).
The activities that really marked me were the horse riding and the rafting. I loved the experience of being a cowboy and that I had the fastest horse in the group. To make the activities extraordinary we had the best staff ever. They really integrated us very easily which made things easier. The atmosphere between each other was great.
I made some Chilean friends which I actually got attached to, for example Alvaro and Jaime and especially my “polola” Pía. They all study at Escuela Futaleufú.
It was a bit sad to leave Futaleufú but I am sure to go back soon.
Gracias por todo Mónica y Alex. Thomas Coullon.
A great deal of the charm of the Futaleufú area was its lack of infrastructure and the welcoming nature of the locals. They way in which the locals actually went out of their way to welcome us both surprised and pleased me. On the whole, this trip really broadened my horizons and enabled me to learn about a different culture and new sports. Additional the trip was beneficial on a more social level as I made new friends. Jaime was an especially funny character.
It was definitely the best school trip I have been on and I would highly recommend others to participate in this project in the future. Tom Myers.
In my opinion the Patagonia Trip was a huge success. Before coming I was a little uneasy about teaching the children as I do not speak a word of Spanish but it turned out to be a great time. I felt a real sensation of accomplishment whilst teaching as well as creating a trail to help the community.
When I heard about the tree planting, I thought it would be a load of rubbish, however, if truth be told, it was one of my favourite activities on the trip. I really enjoyed working outside in the sun, digging up trees and moving them. The sporting activities were spectacular. Kayaking and rafting gave me a huge adrenaline rush. As a matter of fact so did the horse riding. Adam James.
The trip was great. Even though I did not know a word of Spanish, I still managed to enjoy the experience as much as the others.
Patagonia is brilliant, I am sure to come back in a few years and see how things have changed.
Honey harvesting, garlic planting and trail marking was good because it made us do something that was different, quite fun and useful. This field trip really boosts my taste to travel. Patrick Lloyd.
I think this has been the best school trip that I have been on.
The lodge was beautiful and positioned magnificently. Buenos Aires was very hot but such an experience. The mix of rich and poor was present everywhere, huge modern buildings next to shanty towns was such a big contrast for me.
The horse riding was amazing fun because we were all galloping through the Patagonian fields together.
Kayaking was very good but rafting outshined the kayaking. Working as a team and going through white water was fantastic.
The service aspect was also very accomplishing. Working with students who only speak Spanish was difficult but my Spanish has improved greatly. Hugo Powell.
It was my first time in South America and I absolutely adored it. The amazing scenery with never ending views, the warm welcoming of the locals of Futaleufú and the comfort and professionalism of the H2O Patagonia.
I also loved working with the locals in the school and discovering a new culture. Leaving Futaleufú is like leaving a piece of yourself behind.
It was kind of tough being the only girl but I appreciated the great fun atmosphere the boys put as well as the easy-going relaxing ambiance set by our peer/supervisors Mónica and Alex.
All in all, it was an absolutely irreplaceable trip where I enriched myself with knowledge, managed to have a lot of fun and acquired powerful tools for my future. I would not have chosen any other trip in the world. ¡Qué chévere!
Seeing as this was my first time visiting South America, I think it will leave me a first good impression. It turned out to be funnier than I had first expected and left me with a feeling of accomplishment because of all the manual labour. Teaching English to the students young and old, was amongst my favourite things even though I thought it would be the worst.
My eyes have been opened to the world of horse riding. My first gallop was quite exhilarating and hopefully not my last.
I will just round it off by saying that this trip was pretty awesome and should definitely be repeated. Floris Schatz.
Our stay at the Antucamay lodge was very comfortable. The quincho was a very nice place to sit down, relax, read a book or chat. I really enjoyed the variety of activities we performed during our stay. One may think that the purpose of the trip was community service and not vacation, however it turned out that the activities with the locals schools were a lot of fun, a lot more than we have expected. Of course everyone, especially me, enjoyed the adventurous activities like rafting, horse riding and kayaking. All in all the contrast between of holiday and community service was great. I am very pleased with it.
I also liked the openness of the locals and guides in Futaleufú, I would really say South American culture is very different from what we are used to.
Jan Philip Molkentin.
I found Patagonia field trip extraordinary. Was one of the most positive professional development opportunities that I have experienced.
To be honest at the beginning of the project I was told it would be kind of tricky to take this group of students. Some people hesitated about their behaviour, their integration and so on. I must say they were the soul of this trip and I truly enjoyed myself sharing this enriching cultural experience abroad with them. They were such a fun and enthusiastic bunch of kids. I learned loads of things about each one of them. The participation and effort they put in every activity was fantastic. I really hope this trip to Argentina and Chile will make an impact in their lives and that they become leaders of other good environmental and community projects in the future.
The experience has affected me in many positive ways, community service is something I have always liked to do especially in South America where I come from. I enjoyed all the activities and the spectacular scenery of Futaleufú. I have not stopped thinking about it and talking about it.
Thanks very much to people who made this trip possible: Brian, Chris and Mr Tate who were the pioneers on this project. It was lovely to meet H2o staff such as Adriana, Mitch, Rodrigo, Nath, Iván, Luis, Aurora, Alicia, Hernán. They were a great deal of support for the children, me and Alex (my husband).
Thanks also to Alex and my colleagues in the Spanish Department who supported me a lot on the planning of this project. Mónica Daellenbach, group leader
I was very pleased to be part of that new project in Patagonia, a region with amazing wilderness and sceneries. This turn out to be great fun, even though the responsibility it brings has not to be underestimated. Bringing home 8 teenagers and my lovely wife safely and fulfilled was my personal objective.
We got great support from the H2O staff and local friends who made our stay in Futaleufú very special. The acquired experience will serve to optimize a possible next trip to Chile. I can just join my wife to thanks all the people who made this trip possible. We got to know lovely people, very attached to that wonderful valley. The nature is amazing down in that region, I hope all the participants become once again aware of the importance to contribute to the preservation of our environment.
Working with the boys and Lulu was very rewarding and full of surprises. It’s was great to get to know those students and support them for a short time in their experience abroad. I think that this kind of experience can only help them to have a wider perception of the world in which we live, with its enriching differences. Alexandre Daellenbach, group leader
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